If there has been one trend that IPL 2020 has picked up in the UAE contrary to the general approach on Indian conditions is to bat second after winning the toss. Over the last three IPL seasons, overs 80 per cent of the times, teams opted to field first after winning the toss in India, which implies roughly 50 of the scheduled 60 matches that are played in a season. The trend was similar to Pakistan Super League matches played in the UAE over the last three seasons (2017 to 2019) - win the toss, field first and win the match - bring success on 71 per cent of the times.
But with IPL reaching the UAE, the trend has reversed. Since the opener on September 19 in Abu Dhabi, teams have opted to field first citing dew as an important factor behind their choice. Of the total eight matches played so far, seven times have teams opted to bowl first, and only once have victory come along their way. Barring MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings, against the defending champions Mumbai Indians in IPL 2020's first game, none of the matches have been won by the chasing team.
Let's look at Chennai's approach in the season's first game. Against a target of 163, CSK lost two quick wickets upfront, as shown in the table below, but did not lose another before the 10th over. In fact, they had increased their scoring rate from 6.67 in the powerplays to 8.5 in the middle overs where they lost only one wicket, leaving them only 41 more to chase in the final four overs.
Now look at the chasing team's approach in the last three games were the margin of victory has been so big. Barring CSK (against Rajasthan Royals), in all the cases, wickets were lost upfront. and neither did the scoring rate fail to improve significantly, nor did the balls per dismissal rate go down in the middle overs.
Teams batting second in IPL 2020...
|Team (Opponent)||Target||Result||Score after 6 overs||Score after 10 overs||Balls/Dismissal in middle overs||% change in SR in middle overs|
|CSK (vs MI)||163||Won by 5 wickets||37/2||70/2||60||37.9|
|KXIP (vs DC)||158||Super Over - DC won||35/3||55/5||20||20|
|SRH (vs RCB)||164||Lost by 10 runs||48/1||78/1||20||1.2|
|CSK (vs RR)||217||Lost by 16 runs||53/0||82/4||12||-3.4|
|KKR (vs MI)||196||Lost by 49 runs||33/2||71/2||15||25.45|
|RCB (vs KXIP)||207||Lost by 97 runs||40/3||63/5||12||0|
|CSK (vs DC)||175||Lost by 44 runs||34/2||47/3||30||17.84|
Yes, there has been the presence of dew, but with the pacers picking up quick wickets in the early overs of the innings, the chasing teams are being left with more to chase with minimal wickets in hand. Maybe here is where the batting heavy teams will survive like Kolkata Knight Riders did on Saturday when put to field first by SRH's David Warner. Despite going losing two wickets withing powerplays and one more in the seventh over, KKR still managed to comfortably chase a below-par 143 in Abu Dhabi.
The trend is most likely to continue as dew will remain a factor, it is only that chasing teams will have to look at not losing wickets in the powerplays and keeping their scoring rate going through the middle overs. Although the 3'o clock matches will of course urge teams to bat first.